Coin Specifications

Category: Classic Head $5 (1834-1838)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 286,588
Catalog: KM-57
Obverse Designer: William Kneass
Reverse Designer: William Kneass
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.8990
Weight: 8.36g
AGW: 0.2416oz
Melt Value: $324.37 (7/28/2016)
Diameter: 22.5mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1838 $5 MS obverse 1838 $5 MS reverse


Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions (HA.com)
  
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VarietyPlus®

There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

Mint records indicate that the Philadelphia Mint coined 286,588 half eagles during the year from two die combinations, each with different obverse and reverse dies. Although it cannot be stated with certitude how many of each variety the Mint produced, a likely division is about 175,000 examples of the more common Large Arrows, Small 5 variety and the balance the Small Arrows, Large 5. The present example is the Small Arrows, Large 5 variant, which is considerably rarer than the other variety. In their 2006 Gold Encyclopedia Garrett and Guth comment, 'The typical 1838 half eagle falls into the Extremely Fine to About Uncirculated range, with the largest population bunched at the AU-58 level. In Mint State, the population drops off dramatically and virtually stops at MS-64.?

The Classic Head design dates to August 1834, when the gold content of the quarter eagle and half eagle was reduced. Before that time, our national gold coinage had a melt or gold value that was greater than the face value, so those coins already in circulation were quickly removed and hoarded, or melted, and those who owned gold bullion refused to have it struck into coins. As a result, gold coins from the years before 1834 have become major rarities today. The Classic Head coinage, first struck in August 1834, was an instant success, due simply to the slight weight reduction, from 8.75 grams to 8.31 grams. This change represented a 5% weight reduction and a similar reduction in value from a little over five dollars per coin to a little under five dollars per coin. The Mint Act of June 28, 1834, was the authorizing legislation to reduce the weight of the coins, and was written to take force on August 1. To further enable the populace to readily distinguish the new lower-weight coinage, Mint personnel removed the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM and its scroll from the reverse. The language of the coinage act included a weight reduction for the ten dollar gold eagle, even though such a coin had not been struck for circulation in 30 years. It nonetheless remained a legally authorized denomination, and accordingly had to be included in the new law. The first new ten dollar gold pieces of the lower weight standard would not roll from the mint presses until some four years later, in 1838.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 3/8/2016

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1838 $5 MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 550 585 625 710 1100 1700 1825 2150 3375 5050 6250 7850 12350 32500 97500 235000 - - - -
$ - - 2050 - 3900 - - - 14000 - - - - -

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 683
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 64


Upcoming Auctions

A random selection of NGC coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
8/2/2016 AU 55   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(2), 131631/Lot# 22107
8/14/2016 MS 63   Heritage Auctions 2016 August 10 - 14 ANA US Coins Signature Auction - Anaheim Session(5), 1238/Lot# 5850


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
2/11/2000 NGC MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2000 February Long Beach Sale #222, 222/Lot# 6683 $25,300.00
4/11/2001 PCGS AU 55   Heritage Auctions Exclusively Internet Auction #21043, 21043/Lot# 3428 $900.00
7/22/2009 PCGS AU 50   Teletrade Auction 2722, 2722/Lot# 2029 $1,725.00
12/2/2010 PCGS XF 40   Heritage Auctions 2010 December Houston Signature US Coin Auction Session(3), 1147/Lot# 4409 $920.00
8/15/2011 NGC AU 53   Stack's Bowers The August 2011 Chicago ANA World's Fair of Money Auction, 115/Lot# 3831 $1,265.00
1/29/2012 PCGS XF 40   Goldberg January 29 - February 1, 2012 The Pre-Long Beach Auction, 67/Lot# 1479 $862.50
2/26/2012 NGC Details AU Details  Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131210/Lot# 26868 $862.50
5/27/2012 NGC MS 61   Bonhams Coins and Medals, 19995/Lot# 1269 $4,387.00
2/16/2014 PCGS MS 61   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 02/16/2014, 174/Lot# 171813 $6,435.00
3/9/2014 NGC AU 50   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 794, 803/Lot# 739 $1,600.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1838 $5 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base1116428201051149918432229244827382910300933654472508290841254418171267393993060457
112147018971200161319712302254427952943312737344675641610237144192102731136467720
00000016131971230225442795294331273734467564161023714419210273113600
00000017282100237526412852297632464103487877501139016295238833553300
1838 $5 MS Prooflike
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base1111111111111111111111
1111111111111111111110
0000001111111111111100
0000001111111111111100
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 63
Points: 4472
Owner: scotty's gold
 
Grade: AU 58
Points: 2190
Owner: jacmitch
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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